Tags: Rumsfeld | Chides | Pro-terrorist | Complainers

Rumsfeld Chides Pro-terrorist Complainers

Tuesday, 22 January 2002 12:00 AM

"Let there be no doubt, the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay is proper, it's humane, it's appropriate, and it is fully consistent with international conventions," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news briefing Tuesday that lasted more than an hour.

"No detainee has been harmed. No detainee has been mistreated in any way. And the numerous articles, statements, questions, allegations, and breathless reports on television are undoubtedly by people who are either uninformed, misinformed or poorly informed."

Asked about the conditions at the makeshift prison, Rumsfeld portrayed it almost as a vacation for the prisoners, who are getting medical care, three meals a day, supervised exercise and frequent showers, all at U.S. taxpayer expense.

"To be in an 8-by-8 cell in beautiful, sunny Guantanamo, Cuba, is not inhumane treatment," Rumsfeld said. "They are being treated in a manner that's consistent with the Geneva Convention, whether or not they merit that kind of a treatment. That is what the United States does."

Some of the prisoners may have tuberculosis so they are wearing surgical masks to protect their guards and other prisoners from infection, Rumsfeld said. The prisoners are shackled and hooded for security when being moved, he said.

He shifted the attack to the leftist critics of the detention, suggesting that they were impugning the honor of military personnel by leveling charges of mistreatment.

"The allegations, that have been made by many from comfortable distance, that the men and women in the U.S. armed forces are somehow not properly treating the detainees under their charge are just plain false," he said. "These are fine, well-trained young men and women who are serving our country well, and it is a disservice to them to suggest anything to the contrary."

In keeping with the traditions of war, the detainees will be held at least until the war is over, at which time they would either be imprisoned or released. Rumsfeld said the men were unlawful combatants, rather than legal soldiers, and were captured during the normal course of the war. He said they would be dealt with once government lawyers clarified their legal status. In the meantime, they are being held for security and intelligence.

"To stop future terrorist attacks, we have detained these people, and we have and will be questioning them to gather additional intelligence information," Rumsfeld said. "We have decided, as a country, that we prefer not to be attacked and lose thousands of lives here in the United States, and that having those people back out on the street to engage in further terrorist attacks is not our first choice.

"They are being detained so they don't do that. That is what they were about. That is why they were captured, and that is why they're detained."

On Monday, the British House of Commons engaged in a debate on the issue. One of the members had just returned from Guantanamo Bay, however, and pronounced the prisoners in good condition.

In Los Angeles, a group of civil-rights advocates filed suit against the government in an attempt to clarify the status of the detainees as prisoners of war, and therefore fully covered by the protections of the Geneva Convention. Opening arguments in the case were made Tuesday.

The Geneva Convention, which the United States signed but did not ratify, requires the humane treatment of prisoners, including a prohibition on interrogation.

But to interrogate the prisoners is exactly why the military has sequestered them at the base.

"To gather as much intelligence information as we can so that we learn more and more about these terrorist networks and the people that are financing them and the people that are harboring them and the people that are actually committing terrorist acts," Rumsfeld said.

The Pentagon is considering awarding a contract to a company to produce fabricated prison cells that would have four walls and a roof and would open to an interior hallway. The permanent facility would replace what will ultimately be a 300-cell camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Let there be no doubt, the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay is proper, it's humane, it's appropriate, and it is fully consistent with international conventions, Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news briefing Tuesday that lasted more than an hour. No detainee has...
Tuesday, 22 January 2002 12:00 AM
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